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Celebs entice fans into funding ‘Veronica Mars’ success reveals fiscal might of crowdfunding

NEW YORK, March 16, (RTRS): There had been other celebrity-driven Kickstarter campaigns, but it was the wild, $5.2 million success of Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas’ drive for a “Veronica Mars” movie adaptation that really clued in Hollywood to the fiscal might and possibilities of crowdfunding. Now, a year later, it seems like everyone is asking fans for cash. Zach Braff got much attention for his request that fans kick in $3 million (of a $5 million budget) for “Wish I Was Here,” which debuted at Sundance and sold to Focus Features for a reported $3 million or so. Spike Lee, too, used the site for his next joint, just passing his $1.25 million goal. In recent weeks, several more big names have humbled themselves in pitch videos and brief explanatory notes in order to flatter and entice fans into funding their ambitions.

Shaquille O’Neal: The all-time great NBA center and multimedia personality made over $300 million in his career, when playing contracts and endorsements are tallied up, and he continues to cash checks by appearing on television and pitching products. But the big Diesel is still asking fans and gamers to pitch in $450,000, via Indiegogo, toward the development of a sequel to his 1994 fighting console game.
 

Fund
“Let’s get one thing straight. It’s going to take more than $450,000 to fund the game. Yes, I am putting my money into the game. And the fans have always been my partners,” O’Neal told The Wrap at SXSW. “We just wanted to use it as a measuring source, to see if there’s some excitement, and there has been a lot of excitement.” With 38 days left, the campaign has raised about $90,000. If you donate $600, Shaq will follow you on Twitter. Zachary Levi: A favorite amongst geeks for his role in “Chuck” and obvious love for nerdy things otherwise, Levi is asking his adoring fans for $1 million to stage another Nerd HQ festival adjacent to San Diego Comic-Con. It is an event thrown by his company, The Nerd Machine, at Petco Park every year, where they hold four days of dance parties and panel discussions and other activities that can be built by a giant machine of nerds. It is a free event, but it costs a pretty penny, and apparently they couldn’t get the funding to make it happen this year.

So, in order to keep the spirit of the nerd burning, Levi and his machine need $1 million, for “venue, staging, production crew, event lighting, video, audio, staff, security, and activations,” according to the Indiegogo page for their campaign. The event raises money for Operation Smile, a popular charity, so basically, donations are being made toward raising money (and doing fun stuff, too). There are no prizes for people who donate, other than getting their names written on a big wall of people who donated, but the nerd machine will keep on chugging! Katherine Heigl: The principal photography on the ZZZquil pitchwoman and “ZyZZyx Road” actress’ next movie, a lesbian romantic dramedy called “Jenny’s Wedding,” is already complete. But the film, which co-stars Alexis Bledel, needs an additional $150,000 to get through post-production. And so, the “Jenny’s Wedding” crew is turning to Indiegogo for the cash. So far, they’ve taken in $48,000 and have 15 days left to get the money.

Recognition
Matt Walsh: A founder of Upright Citizens Brigade and a hero to all comedy nerds, Walsh is finally getting recognition for his on-screen talents, with a regular role in “Veep” and a starring turn in David Cross’ Sundance film “Hits.” Now, he’s in the filmmaking business, and is looking for just a little over $52,000 to finish post on his improv-driven movie, “A Better You.” So, why should fans donate? “One, I’m not truly famous, I’m more of a “Hey I know that guy” celebrity,” he wrote on his Indiegogo page. “Two: I’m not rich and my wife and I have three kids so the money I make — I can’t tell you where it all goes, but it’s not for champagne or tropical vacations.”

Neil Young: It took just one day for the rock legend to raise almost double the stated goal of $800,000 to launch Pono, his high-quality digital music player and marketplace. It didn’t hurt that he had a slate of other leading lights - including Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Kid Rock, Dave Grohl, T Bone Burnett, Rick Rubin, and Eddie Vedder — vouching for the sophisticated audio experience that Young is promising. With 32 days to go, he’s now up to over $3 million and counting. More like knocking on heaven’s safe, am I right?

Scott Ian: The guitarist of the heavy metal band Anthrax went on a spoken word tour, and now he’s looking to fans to bankroll the DVD release of his act, which is creatively titled “Speaking Words.” He’s up to 31% of an unspecified goal, but it must be somewhat sizable; he’s offering to take a fan out for a wild night in Vegas for a $25,000 pledge. For the more frugal Anthrax enthusiast, a guitar built from wood from the church in “Night of the Living Dead” is available for a mere $12,500. So, get it while it’s hot, if you’re into Henry Rollins and/or fake church guitars. Matthew Modine: The veteran actor is looking for $5 million for a movie called “The Rocking Horsemen,” a coming-of-age stories set in the 60s. But instead of just asking calling for some generosity and offering some small prizes in return, he’s offering them a stake in the possible profits, through a site called Slated. It’s not all that often that films that size make much money, but at least there’s a shot.
 

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